The other night it was all hot and icky in an o god, summer has actually arrived, how will I survive? sort of way. I was HUNGRY and in need of vegetables. So I decided to try an idea I'd found at The Hungry Tiger: matching vegetables and pasta for uniform shape and texture. Fettuccine tossed with long, thin strips of zucchini sounded like a good plan.
You should all be aware that I like butter. So I decided to make a butter and garlic oil sauce much like that in the more traditional pasta aglio e olio, and to use that as a base for lots of green, green delicious things.
Put a pot of water on to boil, such that you can make your pasta while cooking your vegetables. I used schmancy food co-op organic parsley-garlic fettuccine, but you know, whatever. This was delicious, however. Cheaper than the commercial fancy packaged pasta as well.
Melt a couple good lumps of butter over medium-low heat in your frying pan, maybe two or three tablespoons. The butter is going to be the main liquid in the sauce (such as it is), so don't worry about using too much. More is better. I like butter.
Get out your garlic press and crush your cloves of garlic into the melted butter. Don't mince it; you want to release as much garlic oil as possible here, so as to flavor the butter well. Crushing will do this far more effectively than mincing. Add a couple light sprinkles of basil and oregano, and stir it all together. Lower the heat while you prep the rest of the vegetables.
Whip out your cutting board and chop off the hard ends of your zucchini. Then chop it into long, thin strips. I cut mine in half, then cut each half in half lengthwise and chopped my strips from each facedown half. I was trying to make the slices to match the pasta, so as to maintain piece size and shape. This worked quite well. Add your zucchini to the frying pan and stir to coat with butter and garlic.
You should probably be adding the fettuccine to its pot of boiling water about now. Or, you know, whenever it boils.
Chop up your spinach as well. I just took big handfuls and threw them on the cutting board, then cut across them with an eight-inch knife. I ended up with some strips and some small pieces, which was fine as spinach reduces quite a lot. Throw in a lot more spinach than you think you need, for this very reason, and stir it all up well to coat. You may want to add more butter; this is fine. The spinach will mop it all up in five minutes flat.
Salt and pepper and let cook until the zucchini is soft and golden and the spinach is wilted and bright green. If you have any fresh basil, you might want to mince some finely and throw it in as well. The main seasonings here should be the garlic and butter, so don't go overboard with any of your spices. Except black pepper. You can use all kinds of black pepper.
When the pasta is done, drain it well and add it to the cooked vegetables. Mix it all up thoroughly, so the vegetables and butter are more or less evenly distributed throughout the pasta. Grate some more fresh pepper on the top, and serve.
This was freaking fantastic all by itself. I would have had a white wine with it, were I having wine, but cold water worked fine. I've been on a pinot grigio kick lately; I think that would have worked well. White wine might also be interesting to add in a splash with the garlic, but again, I haven't tried it. Anyway, it was good and light and cool on a very warm night. If we had a table on the balcony, I would so have been eating out there. But we don't, and plates are a bit unwieldy. So instead I went out later with some ice cream. It was a good night.